More Storms Over the Weekend & More Martins Downed by Ra

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Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

This has been a very unusual August. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings in the predawn time period we had thunderstorms roll through with heavy rain. I went down to the roost both mornings as it was getting light to check for any more soaked birds. There weren't any on Saturday, but yesterday was a different story. The storm also had brief high winds and that may have been a factor. There were quite a few martins on the ground in the parking lot and on the sidewalk on the north side of the office building. Some of the birds had dried off enough they were starting to take off on their own, so I started gathering up the ones that appeared to be in the worst condition.

When I moved over to the north side of the building, there were probably 50 to 60 martins huddled up next to the building. I called for some help from the professors who live close to downtown, and then a young man who had been out celebrating something all night came walking down the sidewalk flailing his arms and yelling, and it spooked me and the martins and most of them took off. That left a small enough number to round up that I called off the help, and ended up with 20 very soaked martins.

Before I left the area, I doublechecked under the roost trees in the parking lot and saw a martin in the middle of 9th St.. It appeared to be totally lifeless, so I put it in a separate bag wrapped in a paper towel, and was going to give it to one of the professors.

I took the birds home and one by one warmed and dried them with the hair dryer. Most perked up very guickly, and were released. Two appeared to have broken wings. When I was getting ready to take the two wing-injured birds to the rehabber, I knew I should put the dead one in the freezer first. When I took it out of the separate bag, it was moving around! So this was a Lazarus story about coming back to life. I warmed him up, and he went to the rehabber as well.

So out of 21 downed birds, 18 were back in the air by 10 AM, and the other three were shortly in the care of a wonderful rehabber. Not sure what their chances are, but at least they get a chance to heal.

This roost should start winding down very soon, and I hope they aren't caught in very many more severe storms on their way to Brazil.
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2122
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

Dick, sorry to hear of your downed birds, hope they do well at the rehabber. I took one bird to a rehab center and recieved good news today that it's been released!
~Ray~ Gingerich
1999 1pair, 2006 2 pair, 2008 2 pair,
2009 23 pair, 2010 39 pair, 2011 67 pair,
2012 115 pair, 2013 160 pair,
2014 152 pair, 2015 174 pair, 2016 178 pair
2017 187 pair, 2018 200 pair, 2019 171pair
2020 233 pair
John Miller
Posts: 4774
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Dick

whew...thank you for all you do.

maybe clap and yell like the young crazy man next time....life in the big city I guess.

John M
birdy girl
Posts: 1179
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Mississippi/Dumas

Dick,
So glad you are there taking care of these birds. They have such a tough life. Storms, snakes, Hawks, owls, mites and lots more things and circumstances that can kill them. Hope they make it to Brazil safely and soon.
trisha
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: Texas/Burleson, south of Fort Worth

Thanks for helping them Dick. I hope the rest recover well.
Trisha


PMCA member
2019, 36 pair
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Thank you all for the support. The rehabber sent me a message this morning that she has released four more and they flew very well. This leaves three with wing injuries that will hopefully heal, and Lazarus. She said they are moving around well and self-feeding on the giant mealworms. Martins sure run a gauntlet of challenges all through the year!
Jim Ray
Posts: 286
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: Texas/Canyon

Yes, thank you Dick!
Rodger Drye
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:07 am
Location: NC/Mt. Pleasant
Martin Colony History: Have been hosting and providing a sanactuary for Purple Martins for 30 years.

Hey Dick, Thanks for taking care of the Martins, I agree they need all the help they can get. How do you become a bird bander? I think that would be another way of helping the Martins.
Thanks, Rodger
Last edited by Rodger Drye on Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PMCA Member
Have been Hosting and Protecting Martin's for 30 years.
MamaBruff
Posts: 1466
Joined: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:21 pm
Location: SW Missouri
Martin Colony History: 2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.

You are a prince among birders. Thank you for all you do! And how wonderful it is that there is a rehabber in your area!

There is virtually no way to check the Carthage roost for downed birds, as the foliage is so dense. We had some hot storms this weekend too. There is an odor at the roost. ( feces and dead birds?)
~Mary B~

Lifelong PM Admirer and Nature Enthusiast.
Ruthless trapper of S&S year round.
2013-2016 Unsuccessful at starting a PM colony. Health problems.
Rehomed all my PM stuff. Good Luck and Best Wishes to All.
Cheryl S
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:26 pm
Location: OK/Sperry/Skiatook area
Martin Colony History: 2013 - 1 ASY pair
2014 - 18 pair
2015 - 45 pair
2016 - 82 pair

Once again you were their knight in shining armor. The temp was very cool Sunday morning so the birds would probably have died from hypothermia if not for your rescue. Thank you!!
PMCA member
98 cavities offered for 2016 -- 70 are gourds and 28 are in houses.
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Thank you all for the kind words. I have been fascinated with martins since I was a kid, so there have been nearly sixty years of watching them, learning as much about them as I can, and just enjoying having them be a part of every Spring and Summer. Part of that knowledge is what they are most vulnerable to, and trying to figure out how best to help them when bad things happen. It is good that we have people here who are willing to help protect the roosts, help when a weather event takes place, and rehabbers who are so gifted at helping the birds heal.

Mama B., that odor is mostly the droppings from all the birds. That is the factor that has been the most aggravating for the property owner and manager at this year's roost location. Wish there were some way to efficiently collect it to use as fertilizer, because it has to be rich in nutrients.
Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6208
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

We had listed how to donate to Wing It, through Tulsa Audubon, by mail, but you can donate online via paypal, too. It's nice to show our thanks to the rehabbers by supporting them with a donation:

http://www.singintulsa.org/
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Louise, thank you for posting this alternative way to donate to the rehabber program. I am always amazed at the skill and care the injured birds and animals receive.
Matt@atx
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:13 am
Location: Buda, TX, south of Austin

Hello Dick,


It is nice to hear how much time and care you took to take care of the birds.
I'm was just wondering how high the winds were and was it cold during this storm around 08/24?

Texas has been dry through June, July, and one rainfall around August 20th or so and then another yesterday. One could not see the drying out effects and then came heat until end of July though.
You guys always seem to get more rain than we get down here.
2008~(1st yr) 4 pairs, 11 to 12 fledged
2009~(2nd yr) 9 pairs, 41 fledged
2010~(3rd year) 11 pairs. 50 fledged
2011~(4th year) 20 pairs, 23 out of 23 gourds Martin occupied, 3 fledged, the rest died in the drought. (1 new Blue Bird, 3 BB fledged.)
2012~ 26 pairs, approx. 100-110 fledged
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Matt, I don't think there was a lot of wind the morning of the Aug. 23rd storm, but there was some. The rain did not last long but it was very heavy for about thirty minutes. Once the martins got soaked and fell, they were on paved surfaces, and the street and sidewalk on the north side of the building slopes to the east. So the birds were already very wet, and water was probably running into them getting them even wetter.

We have now had the amount of precipitation that Tulsa would get in a normal year, and we have four more months to go. After several drought years in a row we aren't going to complain, and it had to result in a whole lot of flying insects for the martins to eat.
Matt@atx
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:13 am
Location: Buda, TX, south of Austin

Hello Dick,


Thanks for the reply.
You guys did get a lot of rain too and probably more as Oklahoma usually does. 30 minute heavy rain fall does not sound like too much but don't wanna see Martins getting grounded by soaking from it. :???:


Im sure it was time consuming for you to do what you did for them to get them back in the air and over to rehab and that was nice to hear about. :grin:
2008~(1st yr) 4 pairs, 11 to 12 fledged
2009~(2nd yr) 9 pairs, 41 fledged
2010~(3rd year) 11 pairs. 50 fledged
2011~(4th year) 20 pairs, 23 out of 23 gourds Martin occupied, 3 fledged, the rest died in the drought. (1 new Blue Bird, 3 BB fledged.)
2012~ 26 pairs, approx. 100-110 fledged
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Hi, Matt. I thought we were through with heavy storms, but more are predicted for this evening and overnight, so there may be another round of helping martins that get rain soaked and downed. The numbers at the roost have dropped greatly over the last ten days or so, but there are still thousands using the roost.
Matt@atx
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:13 am
Location: Buda, TX, south of Austin

Sure hope none are downed if that rain does come. Folks here are telling me that we can expect some rain here this week for what that rumor is worth.
If we get some, I imagine, OK will get some. You guys usually always get more rain up there. There is a big roost here in Austin which I visited on 09/03.
I'd say there is a couple to few thousand there maybe(?).
Your roost sounds like there are whole lot more. I hope The Lord keeps those birds at your area if heavy rains come.
:wink:
2008~(1st yr) 4 pairs, 11 to 12 fledged
2009~(2nd yr) 9 pairs, 41 fledged
2010~(3rd year) 11 pairs. 50 fledged
2011~(4th year) 20 pairs, 23 out of 23 gourds Martin occupied, 3 fledged, the rest died in the drought. (1 new Blue Bird, 3 BB fledged.)
2012~ 26 pairs, approx. 100-110 fledged
Cheryl S
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:26 pm
Location: OK/Sperry/Skiatook area
Martin Colony History: 2013 - 1 ASY pair
2014 - 18 pair
2015 - 45 pair
2016 - 82 pair

Dick, I'm wondering if last night's storms downed more Martins. We got 3/4 inch at our place and a period of fairly strong winds. Some of the storms arrived at about the time they would have been coming in to roost. Hopefully they hunkered down somewhere.

I keep trying to figure out how these rain storms can down these birds. Earlier in the Spring when we had all those inches and inches of rain, I would see the birds in my colony sitting out on the perches and housing and never saw any fall to the ground. They never sought shelter in their gourds. I wonder in having so many thousands of birds in those small trees, that some had such tenuous perches they couldn't hold on with the winds and heavy rain.
PMCA member
98 cavities offered for 2016 -- 70 are gourds and 28 are in houses.
Dick Sherry
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2003 5:30 pm
Location: Tulsa, OK

Hi, Denise. The martins made it through last night's storms OK. I went down twice last night while it was still raining. It got so dark about 6 PM that I wondered if the martins would go to the roost early based on the amount of light, or wait until the normal sunset time. It seemed like they were doing some of both. When I got to the roost around 7:30, there were already some birds in the trees, but still thousands of martins in the air and coming in from various directions. One huge clap of thunder sent all the birds into the air again, and it took a few minutes for them to begin to settle back into the roost trees. There seemed to be a lot more martins last night than there was last week, so there may have been an influx moving with the cold front.

I don't know why they seem to be so vulnerable at the roost. I have watched them sit on housing during a thunderstorm, but they would often duck into a room at some point. I think the combination of the rain, 2 inches or more in a short time period seems to be a factor, and if there is also strong winds that blow them around and into trees or buildings, plus if they stay wet after falling or getting blown out of the roost tree, they may experience hypothermia. It just seems odd that a species that spends a good part of the year in South America seems to have serious problems staying dry enough to function well in heavy rain.
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